On this same day, Memorial Day, 7 years ago something terrible happened to my business and to my family personally.
There are certain things in life you think “that'll never happen to me,” your famous last words. Unfortunately those were my last words. One of “those things” happened me. It was a freak accident, a long story, a weird twist, whatever you want to call it.
About seven years ago we had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a house fire. Our attached garage burnt, part of our house & smoke damage to almost everything. Of course with many other inconvenient things they always seem to happen at the worst possible time. This happened end of May, which for me, was the middle of a very busy wedding season (yes, I used to shoot weddings). I still remember it vividly though. I was upstairs backing up cards from the wedding I had JUST shot when I heard somebody yell “get out of the house, it's on fire!” Without even thinking I grabbed all of my hard drives, camera gear and the cards that were currently uploading (The cards are fine, the couple got their photos safe and sound) and sprinted out of the house, what a disaster.
Before I move on further I just want to let you know we're all fine (even Tom & Freddy – our cats) and that although this was something I never hoped to experience I feel I have learned a lot from this.
TOP 3 Things I'm Glad I had in Place Before the Fire:
-Renters/Home Owners Insurance
-Nearby Fire Station
-A decent Back Up System (for backing up photos)
TOP 3 Things I WISH I had in Place Before the Fire:
-Being a Full time Boudoir Photographer (I was still doing weddings at the time, they're far too stressful for me, kudos to those who shoot them)
-A list in place of all of our items or our insurance company
-A BETTER back up system
I just want to touch again on how GRATEFUL I was to have had insurance. If you don't have renters/home owners insurance, insurance for your gear, etc. GET IT NOW. Our renters insurance was only $60 a YEAR. With the smoke damage alone we would have been out $20,000 in cleaning fees. That doesn't even begin to include re-building of the house, etc. Once things cooled down a bit I thought more and more about the situation and how things like this DO happen and how I need to take things such as backing up my photos even more seriously then I already was. I felt like I “got lucky.” When backing up important photographs you don't want to “get lucky.” You want to ALWAYS KNOW that all of your photos & documents are safe and sound.
I know you're thinking “DUH MOLLY, of course I know all of this already.” Yes, I knew it all too, but are you REALLY implementing it??
Although I had a backup system I will admit I didn't really know a whole lot about it. I had things on lots of different hard drives, saved things to smugmug and another online back up archiving site. My photos may have been safe but what kind of system was this?? When I started my business there were SO many things on my to do list that backing up got touched on but was never “perfected.” Backing up your photos is SO important yet it is one of the “least sexy” topics. I'm sure you would rather be shooting, taking bookings, marketing, making money, etc. The system I had in place was good. However, I didn't want good, I wanted to KNOW that I was doing the best job I possibly could so that I could sleep like a baby at night 😉
Questions you NEED to Ask Yourself:
-Are all of my photos currently backed up on-site AND off-site? (if you work from home this is super important)
-Do I have an organized system in place?
-Do I need to set aside time on my calendar to make this a top priority?
-Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the back up options?
As photographers (not just wedding photographers, this is important for all of us) most of us are not networking geniuses. I had to do A LOT of research on different back up systems, get opinions from networking/computer friends, and [ALMOST] spent way too much money on my first “back up system.” Which hey, if you have the money this is a GREAT system, check it out.
However, I was recently made aware that a couple photographers have already done all the research and testing for you! I recently heard about this, went to check it out and saw it's only $23 (during their launch), are you kidding me?! So of course I purchased their “Back up or Die” E-book and had MANY “ah hah” moments! This PDF E-book is insane. They educate you about backing up, all the different systems, what system is right for you and a step by step guide on how to implement everything 0_0. Why didn't I find this year ago?! Thank you PC!
The best part is, they found a way to make reading and implementing a great back up system for your business, SEXY! The Back up or Die PDF is written like a hilarious fairy tale, haha!
Although I wish the house fire could have never happened to us, in a way I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the things we were already prepared for and I'm thankful for what I learned from it. I hope everyone reading this NEVER has to go through a house fire or the like because it is pretty damn terrible, draining, testing and exhausting. However, you can prepare for it. Don't let “that'll never happen to me,” be your famous last words, prepare for it and you will thank yourself later.
Want more business tips?
- Free Masterclass on How To Book 3 or More Boudoir Clients Every Week, grab your seat to the training here now
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Have your own back up horror story? Share it in the comments below so we can help even more boudoir photographers be prepared.